January 23, 2007

The old Agile/UCD chestnut

My good man Gideon blogged this article from UX Matters: Clash of the Titans: Agile and UCD..

Reading it reminded me of my Agile/UCD thinking of three or four years ago, when I advocated design teams working ahead an iteration in front of development. My experience since then has got me thinking differently. People working ahead of others on the conveyer belt is just waterfall, done over and over. This is what agile aims to exterminate.

Here's the comment I posted to that article, which summarizes my thought on it...

"Working one or two iterations ahead is great to allow the design team to get ahead a step. But it denys a multidisciplinary approach to design. The ideal design scenario brings the designer out of the ivory tower and in front of the project team, to facilitate a collaborative process. I've found that work to be done ahead an iteration should be limited to discovery work only. This way the design team can do the research, be ready to impart this knowledge (summarized) to the project team who can then engage in collaborative, informed design during the scheduled iteration. Any design beyond discovery can be done ahead an iteration at the risk of the development team being unable build your specified behavior in the time-box. If you're aiming to release at the end of each iteration, as is recommended with most agile processes, this can leave you in a pickle. Half finished code or finished code on half the design leaves egg on everyone's face. Forget anything other than quick and dirty paper prototype testing during the iteration. There just isn't time to run a full test and process the results in good time, usually. Instead, launch the feature, test and tweak it in the next iteration. If you count the necessary usability tweaks as 'bugs' versus 'features' you don't violate the rules of introducing work to the current iteration."

Posted by Ant at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Take a look at what I've been building

Though this isn't new, its only now getting to the point that I care to share it with anyone. I am the Creative Director revamping the look and overhauling the infrastructure for myfamily.com. The old myfamily.com has a solid feature set, but is in desperate need of bringing into the new millenium.

There's still a long way to go before myfamily.com 2.0 beta has as rich a set of features, or the finesse in front-end code that I'd like to see, but it is out there. Soon we'll start advertising that it's there and we'll see what the punters think.

The above 'SnapGenie Story' is a part of the product that allows you to build narrated photo slide shows using a telephone and the pc. The voice-over is by yours truly.

Posted by Ant at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2007

Fluid UI

Om Malik comments on the new fluid UI we're seeing emerge from Apple. It's particularly evident in the new iPhone apparently. I guess we'll have to wait till June to really play with it.

Toward the end of the article, Om points toward a trend that we're seeing not only in software for devices, but also on the web with the 2.0/Ajax delivered dynamic interfaces.

Designing for these interfaces raises some interesting challenges that are being more frequently explored in design conferences. The concepts of time, animation, ergonomics and information density are all heightened with the new world of UI design.

The iPhone has one distinct interface advantage over other devices in that it requires no input devices such as a mouse. Though our fingers are imprecise tools, we have more than one of them and I'm guessing the next frontier will be how we teach technology to understand the concurrent input of our many fingers.

I'm sure Apple had many chanllenges in designing for the clumsy finger. But this constraint has to have yielded creative interface solutions that overcome the physical size of the pointing device. I mean to say that Apple's designers were forced to simplify the interface so that it could be manipulated without error. I imagine with all that had to be taken away left not much left on screen to confuse the user. Fingers closely map to the imprecise nature of human behavior and comprehension.

It seems obvious now. Designing for fingers should open a new era of simple and intuitive interfaces. Thanks for showing the way again, Apple.

Posted by Ant at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)